New Year Normal

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” 

~ Ecclesiastes 11:4 TLB

If I wait until it feels new, I will never get started. I’m starting now.

If I wait until I have it all figured out, it will never get finished. I’m starting now.

If I wait because I will be interrupted, I will never get going. I’m starting now.

What do you want to get done this year?

Let’s just start!

How Can We Really Help the Poor?

So all week long I’ve been trying to figure out how to express my thoughts about the angst that the political rhetoric of this presidential election is causing in my spirit. I have written and rejected more than one blog post because I couldn’t remove the negative emotions from it. The overwhelming negativity, political lies and confused cheerleaders are all strong magnets; I have to continually pray them out of my brain. Politicians would have you believe that their Robin Hood methods of providing more for the poor would actually help people, however it causes me to ask, how can we really help someone in need?

After lost sleep and many deleted words, I have chosen to simply write an appeal for an organization that I personally know is helping poor people, and whose vision and mission are aligned with what they actually do.

I prefer to hand my hard-earned resources over to someone I know will actually use the money or goods as they say they will. So there is no mistake, this post is not to ‘should’ on anyone or try to guilt anyone into giving anything – my intent is to reveal the needs of a small mission in the Appalachian mountains in Kentucky.

Jim and Rita Cmolik operate Hills and Hollers Ministries and their non-profit mission is about relationship “between our God, our neighbor and ourselves.” They are building those relationships with the people of Appalachia in McCreary County.

This is not a ministry that is about simply giving free stuff to poor people. Yet part of having a relationship with someone is helping them with tangible needs when they need it. The primary way they do that is through their Community Closets that provide clothing and household goods. Much of what they give away is second-hand clothing and they also provide new items when possible – especially after a fire has taken everything a family owns. And unfortunately, there are many fires, largely due to wood stoves and space heaters used as a primary heating source.

How can we help? We can go through our closets and give away clothing and coats. I also went through the linen closet and found sheets and blankets not being used. Shopping the “After Christmas sales” for new kids clothes and men’s t-shirts ended up being less expensive to drop-ship to them directly than if I had gone shopping and filled another box. Then the “white sales” came along and crib sheets were down to $4 each, less than I could purchase the material and sew them myself. And of course financial donations allow them to purchase other material goods or building materials that are needed and that are the tangible side of building relationships.

One reason that you will rarely (if ever) see Jim and Rita actually asking for clothing donations is that they have found over the years that many people will send items so filthy or torn that they have to pay for them to be hauled to the dump, which ultimately takes away from the ministry financial resources, becoming a hindrance rather than a help. So if you do give, to them or any other ministry, make sure it’s something worth giving.

Just to be clear, no one involved with the Hills and Hollers Ministries has asked that I write any kind of an appeal for their mission. I am only writing about them because we trust them and we have been blessed by sharing in their ministry and wanted to share this information with anyone looking for a way to truly support the poor.

So, if you are looking for someone to actually help, and that kind of ‘giving to the poor’ appeals to you, here is information on their mission and answers to questions you may have. Check out the Facebook page link and the Hills and Hollers Ministries website.

Here is how to reach them:

Contact Us…

If you’re interested in learning more about our ministry in the “hills and hollers” you can email us at jim@hillsandhollers.org or contact us via “snail mail” at:

Hills and Hollers Ministries
2281 Lick Creek Road
Whitley City, KY 42653

Hills and Hollers Ministries is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt non-profit 501C (3) organization.  Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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Father’s Day is Sunday

So neither one of my books is specifically about Father’s Day or specifically written to fathers.

Unless perhaps your father is unemployed and needs a gift of hope and help.

Unless perhaps your father is the one being abused and needs truth and a gift of hope.

Both books are specifically about hope, the Truth and transforming lives.

Released: A True Story of Escape from an Abusive Marriage

Accidental Sabbatical: Hope for Surviving and Thriving While Unemployed

The Kindle version of either book will be offered for 99 cents, beginning on Sunday June 21st through Sat. June 27th.

In case you want to give some hope…

Guest post: Bold Marriage is a Choice

I was going to share this yesterday on Valentine’s Day, but I was busy spending the day and night with the love of my life. Time is the most precious gift we can give each other.

This post was written by my sister and echos our experience of nearly 24 years together. Does it resonate with you?

Bold Marriage is a Choice

By Kim Godawa

In our world of too many shades of gray, making a commitment to spend your entire life with one person in marriage is a bold move.   Why?  Because I think all human beings want to be “known” without fear of rejection.  At the same time we all fear exposure of our true self.   Let’s face it, we don’t’ see many successful marriages for good role models.  But my Grandpa used to say, “There are no perfect marriages, but there are successful ones.”

So what makes a marriage successful?

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After 27 years of being married (to each other), we feel very blessed to still be joyful and satisfied with each other.   Building a strong marriage requires basic elements that create a strong foundation to weather the inevitable disappointments and changes that life brings: infertility, unemployment, unfulfilled dreams, illness, and aging.

We would be guilty of “taking credit” from God without acknowledging up front that we have had a successful marriage because we have always tried to put God above ourselves.  He is our authority and we’ve sought to follow and know Him in a personal relationship (individually and as a couple).  From our experience, marriage seems to be God’s lab to test the theories we say we believe about Him.  A few examples of this include:

A willingness to care more for each other than ourselves:  On a practical level, we ask ourselves questions on a daily basis to help clarify our motives.  (I.e. “Would this action/decision I’m about to make help my spouse feel respected, supported, and cared for?  Or is this decision mostly about me?)

Negotiating is more powerful than winning: We’ve learned to individually focus on what we’ve contributed to a problem/argument, instead of focusing on what the other did wrong – or trying to change them.  (I.e. Am I building my spouse up or am I tearing them down?)

Study your mate and learn how to please him/her:  What activities do they enjoy? What kinds of foods do they like? Where do they feel most comfortable? What makes them succeed and feel safe?

Learn wisdom from others’ experiences: There are many resources that have helped us to build a spiritual foundation and purpose in our marriage. Understanding male/female differences, as well as seeking counsel from others solve many of our problems.  These three authors have (including my parents amazing marriage as a role model) helped us tremendously.

  • Elisabeth Elliott – “Let me be a woman”; “Keep a Quiet Heart”
  • Dennis Prager’s – Male/Female hour podcast
  • Tim Keller’s book – “The Meaning of Marriage”
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So if you’re looking for a perfect marriage – give it up.  Try working toward a successful one instead!

marriage love valentines day valentine bebold livelive successful selflessrelationships advice gender differences god follow god christianity

NOW is all there ever is.

People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind.  ~ Eckhart Tolle

So, a friend of my sister’s has learned this week that he has the same type of pancreatic tumor that Steve Jobs did, and it’s terminal.

Wouldn’t it be better to actually know that you have only a couple of years to live? I imagined being in his situation and immediately began to think of things I would definitely do – bucket-list type things – and other things I would definitely stop doing! Or at least do less of!

Does it take a death sentence to make us change thinking and behavior?

NOW is all there ever is.

NOW is rapidly becoming my primary ‘one word’ for this new year.

Oh sure, I did my goals list. I chose my 3 words. I wrote the ‘story’ behind my goals. I did the drill. Push. (Myself). Connect. (with others). Grow. (myself, and my business).

But to succeed, I will need to focus on those words and goals within the framework of my one word. Now.

I will push myself now. Today. It is the end of my workday now and I have done just that. Pushed through a difficult project today.

I will connect every day with some people. I have done so today, both personal and business contacts. Many of them.

I will grow. Every day. Today has presented two new problems for which I need to find system solutions.

Once again here is my favorite quote from Chris Brogan, the originator of the ‘3 Word Exercise’

Everything you will do in this year will come from what you do every day. Your year is made up of days.”

What do you think?

***

Five Minute Friday: Notice

Notice. You have to stand still or stop to really notice. Does it all just fly by? Does it seem like it’s going too quickly?

When my son was little I remember treasuring each stage and every new growth spurt. I might not have loved every one of those stages, but I knew they would end and quickly and I loved him no matter what. Still do.

Now that we are all adults, it seems that life is simply a series of stages and seasons and it’s up to me to intentionally notice and treasure what is good, whether it’s a rough season or a great one.

There is always something to learn if I just notice.

There is a blessing in every stage, in every day. Especially when it’s feeling tough.

This rocked my morning when I read it… some words of wisdom from a former pastor of mine:

There are no “coincidences”, only divine appointments cloaked to look like mere fate. There is no karma, luck, happenstance or chance in the way God has ordained His universe and, by extension, our lives. Things may appear haphazard, but they aren’t. So, God actually has a deliberate plan for all of us today. We can either do His will — or ours. We can either run His pattern — or ours. We can either live for time — or eternity. So, watch out! There will be more than one opportunity for us to do something that will change the course of history before nightfall. Look for it carefully, for it will likely come disguised as an interruption, a problem, or a seemingly unimportant person. Remember: Nothing trivial will happen today. It all matters.

~ R. Steven Warner

What do you notice in this day of your current season?

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Kate Motaung is the amazing host of the Five-Minute Friday community.

Join us here for the #FMFparty where we write without editing for 5 minutes.

Five Minute Friday: STILL

Being okay with change is one thing. Finding your new normal in that change is yet another. I am still getting used to the new normal that happened with the last big changes in my life, and here comes another one.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

I will. I have to or I don’t survive. Sometimes it feels like we’re holding on for dear life with the pace of change in this world. So the question is, what I am I holding onto? I choose to hold on to the Almighty God and His promises to take care of me and love me. Period. That’s really all that matters. The rest of the stuff in life still happens, but when my focus is on Him and what He is doing with my life, I don’t have to stress or worry about things.

“Be still and know that I am God”, He reminds me again. And again.

He is God and I am not. I remind myself of that often, especially when my troubleshooting, problem-solving brain can’t get it solved. I am so thankful that He loves me and knows what is ahead. He knows, He’s got it, and I will be still and seek Him.

***

Kate Motaung is the amazing host of the Five-Minute Friday community.

Join us here for the #FMFparty where we write without editing for 5 minutes.

Will It Matter?

Where does time go? Not only in a month, or week, but each day?

Each day I have something to do. Some things that must be done whether I want to or not; other things that I really want to do. And always I am hopeful that I am doing something meaningful, that what I’m working on is going to matter in someone’s life; that what I’ve written will help someone.

I ask myself every day: “What am I going to do today that will matter in five years?”

It helps me focus on today. So where does the time go?

As I read a Facebook post today by the Bethany House Abuse Shelter, I realized again that for some women the days and weeks and months, even years all remain the same. Until they don’t.  Until they get free. Or until the abusive man they are with takes their life.

Bethany House Abuse Shelter in KY posted this sobering story of Monica Helton Wells being brutally murdered by her boyfriend on October 15th, and more domestic violence ending in four additional fatalities in the following week in their community.

On one hand when I read stories like that, I feel so blessed that the Lord helped me to escape and to share my story of release from an abusive marriage. Yet, on the other hand, I feel sad that I couldn’t give a book to each one of those women and help them to make a personal decision to get away.

But that’s the point. I can’t ‘make’ a woman who is enduring abuse do anything to get free. No one else can. She has to make the decision and then take action on her decision. All I can do is share and pray. And pray some more.

Whenever I wonder why I am in this season to write and share and more importantly, to pray, something like this comes along to remind me and help me focus with new strength.

Will you pray with me? Not only for women who are victims of domestic violence, but for renewed focus and strength in whatever season you are in and whatever you are doing that will matter for eternity.

***

Five Minute Friday: BECAUSE

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future

And live is worth the living, just because He lives!

Because He Lives is one of my favorite old worship songs ever!

For several years now, I have signed my Christmas cards and other personal notes, “Because of Him”, because everything that I am is exactly that – because of Jesus.

Because of Him.

I am forgiven and will spend eternity with Him.

I am loved and safe and where He wants me to be.

Everything in my life is because of what Jesus did for me.

That is the most important ‘because’ in my life.

How do you finish that sentence? Because…

***

Kate Motaung is the amazing host of the Five-Minute Friday community.

Join us here for the #FMFparty where we write without editing for 5 minutes.

Five Minute Friday: HOLD

“Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.'” 

~ Ann Landers 

Hold your head high.

Hold on!

Some days it feels like I’m holding on for dear life; other days it feels like fear is holding on to me. But I make the conscious choice to decide that the troubles will not capture or defeat me.

I’m not going to write about those troubles or give them any publicity!

Instead I’m going to hold them hostage and force them to listen to my blessings:

I am blessed to be a child of the Almighty God.

I am blessed to be able to love and be loved.

I am blessed to have daily bread.

I am blessed to be able to hold on, regardless of the troubles, because I believe that God has it all under control even when I know that I do not.

I choose to hold onto faith rather than fear.

How about you? What are you holding onto?

***

Kate Motaung is the amazing host of the Five-Minute Friday community.

Join us here for the #FMFparty where we write without editing for 5 minutes.

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